It is hard to believe that today we are closing out the Old School Series.  We have had so much fun diving into the Old Testament with you.  It felt like the perfect series for the times that we are living in today.  It can be easy for us to dismiss or pass off the Old Testament and it’s stories because they happened so long ago, but our hope was that you could see just how much their stories line up with  our stories today.  Our stories are amazingly similar and as we study and read our Bibles it’s amazing how much we can learn and apply to our lives, especially when we realize just how personal these lessons are and how relevant these lessons are and today we are really going to get relevant because we are going to talk about something that we all deal with…yes all of us.  I know with full confidence that everyone of us deals with this thing, do you know what we are talking about yet?  It’s sin.  We are going to look at how to protect ourselves from temptation, and sin in our lives, and we are going to talk about how we handle and maybe view ourselves WHEN we sin.  Yes, I said when we sin very confidently because we sin, we mess up, we feel pulled by fleshly desires, and not one human being reading this is perfect…and why can I say this so confidently?  Because we are people, and we mess up.  Now I know this type of statement can make some uncomfortable because we are to be holy, and we all should be striving to be, but we are still imperfect beings in need of Jesus in our lives.  Paul helps us understand that regardless of how perfect we pretend to be or look on the outside, or how holy a life we try to project to those around us, we all sin.

Romans 3:23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. NLT

This statement is so powerful, it is so important, it should keep every Christian humble and unwilling to judge others, and it should bring some relief to every person on this planet because “everyone has sinned.”  That would mean we are all in the same boat and leads us all to the same place, imperfect sinners, who are in need of a Savior and our Heavenly Father loves us enough to send us that Savior in Jesus.  This is a beautiful thing and should be music to our ears every time we hear it and it’s what Paul is trying to help us see, yes we all sin…but we have a God who loved us so much that He took care of our sin problem for us.

Romans 3:23 Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, 24 God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. MSG

So why would I say this is music to our ears as people?  Because I know something about you.  You deal with sin and temptation.  Why do I know this?  Well, it’s because before I became a Pastor so did I!  Ha, that is a joke!  The reason I can this so confidently is because I’m a person too…I know, I know some of you can forget that because I have Pastor in front of my name, but we humans all deal with sin…even amazing men like the one we are going to continue studying for the third consecutive Sunday and that is the amazing King David.  Now, some of you are paying attention, and you’re thinking “it’s time to call a timeout” aren’t you?  You’re thinking “wait a minute Sam, you can’t be talking about David!  You told us earlier in this talk that we are talking about sin, and temptation today, so you can’t be talking about the same David you guys have spent the last two weeks talking about, not that David right?”  Yes, that David who I told you two weeks ago lived a life of love, a life after God’s own heart.  I’m glad you remember that, in fact God describes David this way…

Acts 13:22 But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’ NLT

Then last week Ken doubled down on telling us just how great a person David is by showing us the very thing that God saw in David, which is how he lived out this life of love, and how he lived with such integrity.  So this can be interesting, because we know David is a man after God’s own heart.  This guy is amazing, a real life superhero, a warrior poet, who we find all through our Bibles…so surely David didn’t deal with temptation or ever sin right…well, the reality is, that because he is a human being and Paul has taught us something about human beings right?  Even David is part of the “all” who fall short.

Romans 3:23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. NLT

Does this shock you?  Does it confuse you that a man who wrote Scripture and is found all through our Bibles, even writing so much Scripture for us today, could fall to sin?  It really shouldn’t because we all deal with sin regardless of how much we prop a person up, or how perfect we think someone looks, we all fall short of God’s glorious standard, we all sin.  So this is something everyone of us is dealing with, and I think today we should look at David’s big mistake and try to learn from it.  I think there are some important and practical things to see that can help you and I as we try to live a life of holiness in this fallen world with so much temptation, and so many things that pull us towards sin and away from God.   So let’s look at the story of David and Bathsheba, a story with huge ramifications, a story of a man after God’s own heart falling to sin and temptation…then making it worse by trying to cover it up, and walking in guilt and shame after it happens…so yikes right!?!?  Let’s get started here in 2 Samuel 11.  And what has to be a much longer story is told in just 5 verses here.

2 Samuel 11 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. 2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.” NIV

So this is not good, and I think these 5 verses really lead to so much pain, and heart ache moving forward for David.  He has fallen to temptation, sleeping with Uriah the Hittite’s wife, who is one of David’s loyal warriors, who is at this time off fighting and risking his life for David which is amazing isn’t it?  Then David finds out she is pregnant.  This is a scandal.  So how does this happen?  How does a man after God’s own heart fall to temptation like this?  It’s interesting, and something we need to see.  We read in Scripture and understand that we all struggle with sin, but we also read in our Bibles that we really don’t have to fall to temptation.  I mean Paul tells us that God won’t let us be tempted beyond what we can handle!

1 Corinthians 10:12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. NIV

So this is where we really need to talk.  We now should be confident in this fact, we all sin.  We all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  We are seeing that even great people who God would say are living after God’s own heart will sin and mess up which is why we need Jesus.  But we also see that God doesn’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear.  We don’t have to fall to it, but we still deal with sin and temptation.  So if you are thinking with me today, if God won’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle, why do we sin?  Why do we all fall?  Well this is where we really need to take some time and talk.  For many Christian’s who read Paul’s words here in 1 Corinthians 10, they think this means they don’t have to worry because God’s got this covered…which is true, God is with us, but we can make it so spiritual that we don’t do anything intentional or practical to guard our hearts and protect ourselves from the enemy’s schemes.  Our enemy has been defeated but we need to remember just how sneaky the enemy is, and how long he has been working on and studying ways to trick us human beings into sinning.  Your enemy knows your flesh, and just what buttons to push to entice you to fall to sin.  So you have an enemy who is very intentionally fighting against you, but so many of us aren’t intentionally and practically defending ourselves which leads to some devastating and painful moments in our lives.  Yes it is true that you won’t be tempted more than you are able, but could that also mean that you have been given the tools, the intelligence, the strength, and maybe the common sense to protect yourself from sin as well?  I want you to see something that really stands out to me about this tragic moment in David’s life and that is, that he just isn’t where he should be.  Did you notice this because it’s really important to see.

2 Samuel 11 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. NIV

This is really important…David isn’t where he is supposed to be, and it gets him into a lot of trouble.  In the springtime when Kings go off to war, David stayed home.  It is amazing how the messes of our lives seem to start for all of us in the same way.  We get in trouble when we aren’t where we should be.  And again, God doesn’t tempt us beyond what we can handle, but we also don’t have to put ourselves in situations that we can’t handle.  Where the temptations are so strong that we indulge them.  This is one of those practical and intentional decisions that we can make so that we don’t fall like David did…we need to be where we should be, this takes focus and intentionality.

Did you ever notice that when we see the young professional athlete or some powerful figure or superstar falls to some scandal, the reporter breaking the story typically lets you know where the thing happened…it’s amazing but I know that the story that starts with “Breaking News, this young superstar was out at the club at 2am last evening and something happened” well, I know that the something that happened probably isn’t good!  Why?  Because they aren’t where they should be!

So let’s talk for a minute because it’s one thing for David, or some professional athlete or superstar to not be where they should be, but how does that relate to me?  Well I see two very important practical and intentional ways to protect ourselves from the pulls and temptations of sin…which we all face.

First – We need to know our struggle.  We must know ourselves and our weaknesses.  We all struggle with sin, and there are different temptations and pulls that we all face, and the first thing we need to do to protect ourselves from sin is to identify what we struggle with.  You may have never spoken of it, it may be a complete secret to the world, but you know what you struggle with, and you need to intentionally identify it.  We all have weaknesses, and things that pull us towards sin.  We all have appetites and things we struggle with.  For some it might be lust and pornography, for some it’s alcohol, for others it might be drugs, or greed, or food, the list goes on and on, but in all of those cases we feel pulled towards those things, and different situations can trigger those temptations…and while God says I will never give you more than you can handle…we need to understand that there are places we just shouldn’t be.  If we can identify the thing we struggle with, we can then make sure we stay away from it, even though we can make many excuses why we don’t have to worry about it.  I want you to see this.  David isn’t where he should be, it was the springtime when kings go off to war.  The NFL player isn’t getting a good night of rest in the safety of his home…he is out at the club in the middle of the night, it isn’t where he should be and you need to identify what you struggle with.  I’m sure you are aware of it, which leads to the second part of this which is to stay away from the thing you struggle with!

Second – We must be where we should be!  We must stay away from that struggle.  This sounds so simple right?  I think it can be simple, but it isn’t is it?  So let’s stop picking on stars like David and these superstars of today and get really practical and just talk about one or two examples of this.

  • Porn – This is a big one, and so many people are struggling with lust and pornography.  But if you identify this as a struggle in your life the second step is understand where you should or should not be.  I’m thinking that if this is your struggle maybe alone with your computer or phone isn’t a good place to be.  Put safeguards in place, find accountability apps and locks for your computer, be where you should be.  Now here is what is interesting, if you continue to struggle with lust and porn and you aren’t willing to put these safeguards in place and you keep putting yourself in the place to fall to that stuff, there is a reason for that too…and it’s because you still want to look at porn. Let’s try another one before I get myself in too much trouble here.
  • Alcohol – Another big one here, so if you identify this as a struggle in your life, you need to be very aware of where you are.  I’m thinking that Happy Hour for a meeting or having alcohol in your home isn’t what you should be doing.  I’m not undermining the addiction, and I’m also not saying this isn’t something that should be laid at the Lord’s feet it should and it must be, but if this truly is something you don’t want to do, then it starts by distancing yourself from the alcohol.  If you are not willing to do that, it’s because your flesh is saying I’m going to continue drinking and the cycle of feeling terrible the next day and back to the bottle continues, and the enemy keeps you right where he wants you.

So while God does say we won’t be tempted beyond what we can handle…it is so important that we identify that thing we struggle with, and that we are very intentional about the situations we put ourselves in…we need to be where we should be.  Paul continues that talk on temptation by urgently helping us see the importance of distancing ourselves from the thing that tempts us, check this out…

1 Corinthians 10:13 No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. 14 So, my very dear friends, when you see people reducing God to something they can use or control, get out of their company as fast as you can. MSG

When you are around sin and temptation get out of there as fast as you can!  In most versions we see the word “flee!’ here…I love that!  Get out of there!

1 Corinthians 10:14 So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. NLT

You know, I’m sure David had a thousand reasons why it was fine for him to not be off at war.  It’s just like the superstar we see fall to scandal, I’m sure they have a million reasons why it’s ok to be out at the club at 2am…and we do this too.  We can always explain why we are where we shouldn’t be.  We can tell everyone why it’s ok to brush up against the thing that we struggle with, and it’s time to understand that we must put distance between you and that thing, run away…FLEE!

So I really wanted to talk about this, we all struggle.  We all have weaknesses and things that tempt us in life and we can win this battle over these things…after all God won’t put anything on us that we can’t handle, but we need to do some simple and practical things.  First we must know our struggle, and second we must stay away from it.  So let’s get back to our story.

It’s shocking isn’t it?  It’s one thing for us common folk to struggle with sin, but not David…not a man after God’s own heart but he does fall to sin and commits adultery…but it doesn’t end there.  David doesn’t immediately repent and come clean here…no he tries to keep it a secret, and in the cover up things get worse.  So if you remember where we left off, David has slept with Bathsheba and now she is pregnant, so this is not going to stay secret for long, especially with her husband off loyally fighting in the war (you know, that David should be in with him) so David starts trying to cover his tracks.

2 Samuel 11:6 Then David sent word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent him to David. 7 When Uriah arrived, David asked him how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing. 8 Then he told Uriah, “Go on home and relax.” David even sent a gift to Uriah after he had left the palace. 9 But Uriah didn’t go home. He slept that night at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard. 10 When David heard that Uriah had not gone home, he summoned him and asked, “What’s the matter? Why didn’t you go home last night after being away for so long?”11 Uriah replied, “The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents, and Joab and my master’s men are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I would never do such a thing.” 12 “Well, stay here today,” David told him, “and tomorrow you may return to the army.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 Then David invited him to dinner and got him drunk. But even then he couldn’t get Uriah to go home to his wife. Again he slept at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard. NLT

Pretty incredible isn’t it?  We see the character of Uriah, who isn’t willing to go sleep in his comfortable bed with his wife while his buddies are off fighting and roughing it.  David even tries to get him drunk and he still won’t do it…so David the man after God’s own heart, takes it a step farther.

2 Samuel 11:14 So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver. 15 The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.” 16 So Joab assigned Uriah to a spot close to the city wall where he knew the enemy’s strongest men were fighting. 17 And when the enemy soldiers came out of the city to fight, Uriah the Hittite was killed along with several other Israelite soldiers. NLT

David sinned with Bathsheba and it was wrong but this sin snowballs, as we add a murder in an effort to keep things quiet.  David is a man after God’s own heart, and people know it.  I’m sure he didn’t want people to see what he had done or that he had fallen to sin.  We see what a loyal and good man Uriah is to David, and in the end, what does David do?  Writes out Uriah’s death sentence, hands it to him, and has him deliver it to Joab himself.  This is amazing.  I will tell you that I think it’s also a great example of what a mess trying to hide our sins and mistakes can be.  This is snowballing out of control on David because he won’t be open and honest about it which I think shows us another really important thing we can learn from this devastating moment in David’s life and that is that we may want to hide our sin, and keep it secret, but it really only gives that thing more power in our lives…it just makes for a bigger mess.

Third – Be honest, don’t try to hide it.  It’s amazing how much power or what a hold that sin can have on you when you try to hide it and keep it a secret.  Have you ever noticed how much better you feel when you talk about it?  Remember if you are a human being that means that you are imperfect…you are part of the “all who sin and fall short of God’s glorious standard” so why pretend you don’t sin?  Yes some things will be more painful to reveal than others, but the weight and power those sins have when they are kept secret is difficult for us to carry.  It’s amazing what happens when we are honest with God and others.

Listen to what Solomon says about people trying to hide things here compared to those who confess.

Proverbs 28:13 People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. NLT

I love this in first John, reminds me of Paul saying that we all sin and talks again about confessing our sin.

1 John 1:8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. NIV

Scripture says that we not only confess to God but to each other.

James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  NIV

This is so important.  We must be honest about our shortcomings and our mistakes, because when we are open, we break out of sin’s hold on our lives.  If we are honest about our issues, we can move out of the guilt, the shame, and the embarrassment of that issue which is so huge, and I want you to understand something, the more you hide it the worse it gets.  The more guilt, the more shame, the more power that sin has and it can just snowball out of control like David’s did.  If you can’t be honest about sin than you need to realize that pride needs to be replaced with humility, and you need to stop pretending that you are not a human like the rest of us, because you are part of the “all” that we spoke of earlier, you know the “all who sin and fall short of God’s glorious standard.”  So be honest with yourself, with God who already knows the truth anyway, and your peers, this will help you find freedom from this stuff in your life.

I wanted you to see some really important things today.  First, we wanted to establish that we all struggle with sin.  Second, we wanted to understand that God doesn’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle, but part of handling it is practically and intentionally protecting ourselves from sin and the things that we struggle with.  We looked at three practical ways to do that by learning from David’s life and mistakes.  First, we need to identify what we struggle with.  Second, we need to then stay away from that thing we struggle with and lastly, we don’t keep our struggles a secret, our pride, and our enemy would like us to keep it all a secret and hidden because it keeps us in the guilt, shame, and embarrassment of our mistakes.  This scripture in Hebrews really stuck with me this week as I started putting this talk together.

Hebrews 4:16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. NLT

I wonder how many of us are walking through life feeling like less, walking around in the guilt and shame of our sins and mistakes when we should be taking this stuff confidently to the throne of our gracious God where we will find grace and help when we need it the most.  I wonder how many of us are sitting here feeling completely stuck to an addiction or sin that maybe no one really knows about.  We get up every day feeling terrible about it, and hoping it never comes to light.  What an awful way to try and walk through life, when you have a gracious Heavenly Father who has already forgiven you of that sin.  If you have asked Jesus into your life, God doesn’t look down from heaven and see all your issues…He is seeing Jesus in you not your sin…you are the one still seeing your sin and that needs to be dealt with!  Listen, that guilt, that shame, that feeling of less than others that you walk in every day…that isn’t how God sees you it’s how you see you!  Don’t put your view on God!  Begin to focus on how God sees you and just how pure His love and grace really is.  All God sees in you is Jesus!

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. NIV

The beauty of God’s love, and His grace is that regardless of how you were doing or what you did yesterday…if you fell to sin, temptation, or just have distanced yourself from God a bit in all the craziness that you are walking through here in 2020…you can head straight back into God’s loving arms today.  Jesus’ death and resurrection has paid the price for all of our past, future, and present sins…this means that when we mess up and we will…His grace has already taken care of it.  God is right there waiting for you to engage Him today and everyday.  When we wrap our minds around what I just said we can confidently go to God and receive his mercy and grace and help when we need it the most, which is really every day isn’t it?

So as I close I want to really press in on you and ask you some questions.  I know this is personal but it is so important.  Are you sitting here today struggling with temptation or a sin?  What is it? Can you name it?  Is it a secret?  Can you look at that sin or temptation and see how you can protect yourself from it?  Are you intentionally staying away from it and putting distance between that sin and yourself?  If you aren’t distancing yourself from it, you need to ask yourself why you aren’t willing to put that distance between you and sin.  Now to really get into something.  Do you walk in guilt and shame about that sin?  Do you struggle to approach God when you mess up?  Why do you think that is?  Is there something right here today that you need to talk to God about and confess and ask forgiveness for?  Are there any areas of your life that you know God has forgiven you for that you still seem to punish yourself for?

Today can be the start of a new day for you, where you confess and ask for God’s forgiveness and it’s yours.  It doesn’t mean that sin and temptation will never bother you again but we now know that grace abounds, and we can be more prepared as we learn from these mistakes made by people like David.  We can walk in a spiritual freedom.  We can leave all that guilt and shame with Jesus on the Cross and live out this new life in Him and we can move forward with these lessons from David here.

We identify our weakness, we need to be where we should be, and we don’t hide our issues because we know that we are part of the “all” in “all for sin and fall short of God’s glorious standard.”